Saturday 27 September 2014

Selfish Sewing Week: A Merveilleuse Metro Modification

While I have come nowhere near to one hour a day for seven days, I have at least pushed myself to the front of the queue and sewn something for myself this Selfish Sewing Week.

After having introduced you to the Maille Merveilleuse from Mamzelle Fourmi with my Coco dress, here's the long sleeved Metro T I've been dreaming of making all winter...

But before we can have any pictures of me, the lighting-test-subject-fairy had to wave her wand in approval.

Thank you fairy, it's my show now:

The top is the Liesl & Co Metro T. This time I went down a size to a straight L, as I was making something that was more for winter weather, and this thicker knit could afford to be a bit closer to me. Actually I would like to wrap myself in about five layers of this stuff and hibernate throughout winter like some larva in a cocoon! It is sooooo soft and lovely.

This pattern is a pretty great fit for me straight out of the packet. The top length is perfect and how about those sleeves! Nothing added there for my gorilla-esque arms. (for my own record I needed 10cm added to the SBCC Tonic 2)

Here's the change up I did make. Instead of a neckband, I cut a front and back facing and then made a keyhole opening in the back. The inspiration was from this top I spied on Kollabora which in turn was a copy of a Petit Bateau top. I adore that one but I have such a surplus of navy/white striped tops but no taupe and spotty ones, until now!

The ribbon was a gift from Mamzelle Fourmi along with my order. I LOVE it when a fabric shop does that. There were two little bags of fabric swatches, this ribbon and some purple cord that co-ordinates with the pockets on my Coco. I hadn't initially planned to use this fabric for the top idea, but when the right ribbon was already there, it seemed like it was destined to be.

I probably could have made my opening more cup shaped and less of a complete circle, but I like it after all, and the good news is there's still enough stretch in the neckhole that I don't have to untie it to put it on or take it off. I tried tying a neat bow upside down behind my neck and no surprise, I'm not very good at it!

It took me a while to get around to making this, so Selfish Sewing Week was just the motivation I needed. Of course, now it's spring, and I'll probably have to put it away for a few months. I imagine that I may have to pat it every once in a while, until autumn comes around and I can wear it again.

It still feels very weird taking photos of myself, but today I was using the older camera body and the remote cord didn't fit so the kids were pressing the button. That made it feel slightly more normal...

But of course they really wanted to get into the pictures. Alright come on in....

Nope, apparently not with me in the way!

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Coco et moi: est-ce que nous nous sommes réconciliés?

You know the Coco dress by Tilly and the Buttons? It was all over the sewing blogosphere a while back... Well I just can't decide if we're reconciled with each other. Do I do it justice? Does it work for me?.... (if you're not up for a long, rambling pattern review, skip to the pictures at the end!)

I thought and thought about this pattern purchase. You see I really wanted a striped boatneck dress, and I'd found some awesome fabric at Mamzelle Fourmi.....

It's called Maille Merveilleuse, which you can imagine means marvellous knit fabric! I bought this colour and two other fabrics. When they arrived I was surprised that they had a slightly brushed feel (I'd expected a harder face like a ponte knit) and I started thinking they were too soft and lush to be grown up clothing. I should be blanketing babies in this stuff. It is soooooo good.

Unusually I wondered if I really needed to buy another pattern.... Couldn't I just lengthen a pattern I already had into an A-line dress? I started searching the web for reviews of the Coco dress. A lot of slim, leggy bloggers were raving about it. A brave few commented on needing a sway back adjustment or darts of some sort. Mostly everyone seemed in raptures.

Then I found some reviews on a sewing pattern review site where there was some genuine criticism of the sleeve/armscye shape. From there I accidently stumbled into the rabbit hole of hatred that is Get Off My Internets (no link provided cause it's awful). There was so much nasty invective directed at this poor woman, I presume because she'd been on television and they hadn't....

It was enough for me to buy the pattern right there and then. Yep, I had my doubts about whether I needed it, but I just wanted to put one over the haters by giving her some of my hard earned. So, Tilly had my cash, I had her pattern and I had some lovely fabric. Everyone should be happy right?

I stuck the PDF together (a nice enough PDF to tile) and traced off the size 6 as that was exactly where my measurements had put me. It seemed a big size so I did that most precise of fitting techniques where you surf the net for pictures of women who've made that size and ask yourself if you're bigger or smaller than she is. I only found one woman who seemed about my size, and had sewn a size 6, and she wished she'd sized down. Also, those pattern pieces were considerably bigger than the SBCC Tonic tops that I'd just made.

Tilly says "don't worry if it's a bit big, you can bring in the side seams". Now, I'm no fitting expert but that shits me. The shoulders will still be hanging down your arms, the neckhole will still be enormous, and those stripes that you've carefully cut probably won't line up anymore.

I decided to trace off the size 5  in the top length and make a practice run... (the sleeve length below is what you can get from a 1 metre cut and nothing to do with the pattern)

Ok, so it's not the nicest fabric (feels good but looks pretty awful), but I could see what the pattern had me worried about. The waist is a bit high for me and the A line starts too early and is too wide. I'd need to lengthen there. The neckline wasn't boat-y enough and would need to be raised at the front, and yep the sleeves did look a bit weird. I even wondered if I'd accidently put them in back to front. (for the record, nope)

It only took a few more squishy feels of the stripey knit and I just had to forge ahead and get my dress made.

I ended up lengthening the pattern by 7cm (about 3") through the waist. I thought I'd want all that length at the hem, as I'm not much of an above-the-knees kind of girl, but I probably lopped about 3cm (1.25") off the bottom before hemming it.

This is just the single most comfortable piece of clothing I've ever made for myself and I've been slouching about in it all winter. But you can see above, that if you're not striking a Tilly-esque pose then the sleeve does get a weird twisting effect at the armhole.

Weird sleeve with a normal arm position above

And now, fixed by sticking my arms out. Cute pose, but not all that great a solution.

I think (but I really don't know about these things) that I need to reduce the depth of the armscye, but I've no idea how to do that, or to alter the shape of the curve to make it fit better.

I raised the centre front neckline by 1 inch as I wanted it to just touch my collarbones, which is roughly where all my various stripey French tops hit.

And then what to do about this?....

I could do some of those diamond shaped darts that I have sewn in other dresses, but there's no way the stripes would look good. I think a sway back adjustment is probably what's needed (never done that before). I'm certainly not alone in having had this problem as my search of Coco's on blogs found plenty of people had a little pool of fabric. Some hadn't noticed, some wished they knew how to fix it and some had added darts.

I'm sounding pretty grouchy, aren't I? But there's a lot of positive things to say about this pattern. I have to say it's beautifully presented. The instructions are very well written and the tips for stabilising the shoulders, sewing the neckline and working with knits are top notch. It should be an awesome pattern for a beginner sewer, or someone new to sewing knit fabric if only they get lucky with the right fit to start with.

So, I should just smile, strike another pose with my arms out and get over myself, right?!

This week is Selfish Sewing Week and I have a long sleeved top cut out of some more of this lovely maille merveilleuse which I hope to make before the end of the week. Meanwhile I'm at least catching up by doing some selfish blogging.

Oh, and for those of you who do have newborn babies and have read this far (love you), you'll be pleased to hear I have leftovers of this very snuggly fabric and I even bought the Oliver + S Lullaby Layette pattern especially to use up the remnants!

Thursday 18 September 2014

A Sketchbook Shirt for a Duck

Last night was P's first School Concert. (it was also my regular French class which involves adult conversation, some wine, good cheese...). I'm sure you know which I attended.

I did the right thing and went and watched my little duck on stage. It went a bit like this: "Quack. Ooooh, lovely mud. Quack" then along with 24 other little prep kids, all dressed in check shirts, jeans and gumboots, they did a little dance. (they weren't all ducks. There were cows, pigs and horses and one appropriately bossy Mrs Wishy Washy)

So, my kid's first ever school concert required my first ever school concert costume. The notice came home from school the week before, saying they needed Jeans (got those), Gumboots (check) and a Check shirt (nope...).
But I did have one of mine that I had set aside when I did my big wardrobe clean out thinking it would be perfect to cut up for the kids one day. It was a Country Road shirt made out of Lyocell - which I hadn't heard of, but is a lovely soft, fine weave with a silky, soft feel. Checking that Wikipedia link, it turns out it's Tencel without the brand name rights. Makes sense, 'cause that's how it feels.
Anyway, I had thought it could easily make a sleeveless blouse for A. I had not envisaged trying to cut a long sleeved, size 6 Sketchbook shirt for P. But I did, and check out the photo of the remnants post cutting!

I am so proud of that! I had to unpick every seam. I thought and thought about how it could all fit. Thought I had it sorted but it was late and didn't start cutting. Thank goodness, as I'd failed to realise the check pattern was decidedly unidirectional and I would have muffed it big time. More thinking, more laying out pieces and I finally got it sorted.

I managed to cut every piece (I'd almost resigned myself to a different fabric for the inner yoke and the under collar) and I even added 1 inch to the length and 3/4" to the sleeves. Woohoo!

I didn't allow myself to entertain the idea of much pattern matching, but did try to get the front pieces and at least the uppermost placket to match. With some freaky sewing luck, one side seam also matches perfectly (but not the other) and bizarrely, without the slightest intention, the upper and under collar were absolutely spot-on.
An in-progress photo that had to go immediately to facebook!

Kind of pointlessly exciting because once that seam is pressed and the collar stitched you'd never notice, but weirdly thrilling all the same, hey?!

Speaking of stitching, I edgestitched and topstitched everything, giving it more of a country feel. The sleeve seams are pressed towards the shoulder and edgestitched and topstitched too. The side seams were flat felled, which is so easy to do with lovely soft, fine fabric. I've previously only done it with denim and thicker terry knit and found it to be a truly painful way to sew seams. This fabric resold me on the idea.

I had really wanted the back yoke on the bias, and while it's got a line of needle holes across it from an old seam, I managed it. The main back panel is cut about 1/2 an inch off the fold making the box pleat a bit scanty compared to the original pattern, but that was my only concession required to get it all out of the one thrifted shirt.

You can't beat this pattern for instructions like the sleeve placket. So neat and satisfying. (what's not looking so good is photos using the old D80 camera body and pushing the ISO in order to avoid using the flash - so grainy)

Love the fabric, love the pattern, LOVE the challenge of getting it all cut from one old shirt and REALLY, REALLY LOVE my little duck!

Monday 15 September 2014

... and a Metro T for me

When I was busy making Flipper's Father's day T-shirt, I figured with the pattern instructions out and the overlocker threaded with grey, it was probably the right time to make the Liesl & Co Women's Metro t-shirt for me!

Mine's a straight XL (oh that hurts to type, but it's the truth). I measured between the L and XL and followed the pattern's advice to size up a little. Also, this fabric is a pretty thin viscose jersey and would be very underwear ugly if it was too clingy.

The size turned out perfect. the shoulders sit right, the armholes and sleeves are not too big, but there's plenty of freedom and swing throughout the T-shirt to avoid any tightness or lumpy bits.

Just showing off my side seam matching, but also having a laugh as the written words make as much sense when you read over the seam as anywhere else. I have to admit to ignorance and say I don't know if it's a famous poem or just a fairly random collection of words. There's a reference to Baudelaire thrown in, just below my neckband are the words "empty womb" and my left breast bears the word "ennui". All sounds about right!

I think there might be enough leftover to make a T-shirt for one of the kids, which would put me on theme with the upcoming Kid's Clothes Week.

kid's clothes week

I kind of like the idea as the print itself seems somewhat inappropriate for a little kid, but is in a very appropriate storybook style font! It reminds me of a book of poetry that I have which includes some translations of Villon, a very ribald poet. How my son would love a T-shirt with a quote about  "a fart such as no toxic beetle ever puffed forth".

What does the theme Storybook suggest to you?

Tuesday 9 September 2014

It's all about the men

This Sunday just gone was Father's day in Australia. According to Flipper it was just the second day of Father's Weekend, which comes at the end of Father's Week which of course is only the last week of... (you get the picture)

Anyway, it was also the second weekend of spring, and it was forecast to be a day like this:

So I got up early, rode to the shops for some croissants, piled the family into the car and drove them out to the countryside to see my parents.

I'd been making a gift for my dad for father's day...

It's the Newcastle Cardigan by Thread Theory. I can't say enough good things about the pattern. It's beautifully presented, perfectly drafted and the instructions are impeccable.

I had initially bought the paper patterns from the Parkland Collection thinking I'd make things for Flipper. I ran the idea of this cardigan (obviously I didn't use the C word) past him, suggesting some of the double sided windproof fleece that P had here. He was interested but perhaps not convinced.

Flipper has a particularly long torso and I was keen for a test run in some other cheaper fabric. But then when I spied this dark grey sweater knit with a kind of faux cable pattern it became clear that the test run was going to be for my dad.

Their chest measurements and arm lengths were similar enough, but the waist measurement did differ somewhat (sorry dad). The patterns are described as being an "athletic fit" which presumably means pretty slim.

So, using the pattern pieces I'd already lengthened and drafted for Flipper, I added a Grandpa waist adjustment (seen above).

By now I was starting to have invested a bit in this project and the underside of that grey sweater knit is horrible. It appears to have a kind of black interfacing backing. It's scratchy and unpleasant. I figured my dad is probably as fussy as I am, so it would have to be lined.

I used a nice cotton interlock from Spotlight in a kind of moss grey colour. Lining it saved me from having to finish any seams (yay) and turned out to be very easy as I kept all the facings exactly as they were intended.

Infuriatingly I'd recalculated all the buttonhole spacings after lengthening the pattern, but then somehow mucked up transferring the new markings to the fabric. It wasn't until I'd sewn and cut the bottom two buttonholes that I realised my spacing was out of whack, and the next three buttons would never fit. I had to evenly space just two more buttons. It doesn't matter, but the pattern is intended to have five buttons, not four.

Photoshoot time arrived and my dad was either busy or had wandered off somewhere... (sorry dad ;) ), so Roger, who was also visiting, and was very keen on the Newcastle Cardigan (Christmas present sorted) stood in as man model number one.

And he worked it!

The pattern comes with options for a regular or wide shawl collar, and for the front and back yoke panels. I chose the yokes and the regular collar (view A).

I used the same fabric for the yokes but cut them on the bias. Saves on matching stripes you know!

The fit is fairly snug, but it feels so incredibly cosy (yep, I kept trying it on while I was making it!) because of it. With the jacket styling it works really well as a halfway between a dressed up blazer and a comfy ol' cardi.
I didn't get any photos of the insides before handing it over, but since Roger's commissioned one of his own, I'll take some pics along the way when I make that one. We were also talking about adding some welt pockets on the front for hands, or just for a wallet. I think they'd have to be smallish to prevent distorting the way the front lays....
Then my dad wandered back and reclaimed his Father's day gift for a bit of modelling himself.
Thanks daddy! He was a good sport, given that his gift was presented with the following advice: You don't have to like it, cause I had fun making it so I hardly care. You do, however have to model it for me for the sake of my blog. If you don't like it I won't be offended, so long as you realise there is no plan B present. Oh, and happy Father's day,
And now, since too many dads is never enough, here's the third:
Flipper scored my second ever bit of man sewing with a Metro t-shirt by Liesl + Co. It's a straight XL size in a cotton lycra. No extra length added and it's still a great fit.
I used some of the great Ottobre ribbings that I bought a while ago for the neckband. It's not quite the exact same light grey marle but near enough and the recovery is great. I'd possibly cut the neckband a tiny bit narrower next time.
The monsters came from a hilarious kid's book about manners called Being A Pig Is Nice. I traced them and cut a freezer paper stencil. The kids then roughly mixed some fabric paints and sponged the paint on, doing one monster each. Once it was dry I added the eyes and hairy bits. The wording is a t-shirt transfer which I deliberately made very small so that he wasn't walking around with a huge happy father's day message across his chest.
While Flipper has said the Newcastle cardigan isn't his style and has vetoed me making him one, he is very happy with his Metro t-shirt and has said yes to more of those as needed. I get to sew the Newcastle again later on for Roger, and dad was still wearing his one the next day.
happy times!

Thursday 4 September 2014

Little Things to Sew : Cover to Cover Challenge - and the winner is.....

So now it's time to draw the prize for one of the Cover to Cover Challenge sewers...

Remember this?

The Fabric Stash is kindly giving one of you the chance to splurge on some of their wonderful fabrics. There is some beautiful fabrics in the store, and if you shop the $6 bargain section you could score more than 8 yards of fabric!
Working from the final PDF scorecard I printed off everyone's names and put them into the hat.
Actually, with about 300 entries from 76 sewers, a Bucket Hat (project 5) wasn't big enough. So the names went into a Messenger Bag (project 4).
(NB: Juliamom2009 aka Janice who is our sponsor, and myself were not in the prize draw)
Then the kids got dressed and ready to help with the prize draw.....
A wears an Art Smock (project 10), Tutu (2), Mittens (1), Penguin Backpack (9) and Cozy Winter Hood (11)
P wear a Bias Trimmed Apron (6), Bear Carrier (18), Red Riding Hood (16), Bucket Hat (5), No-Tie Scarf as blindfold (3) and had assistance from the Bear Puppet (20)
Then, with as much pomp and ceremony as possible dressed up like that, they drew the winner from the Messenger Bag (4) while standing on the Travel Quilt (15) in front of the Puppet Theatre backdrop (21)....
And the winner is.....

She had completed 9 of the potential 21 projects. Here is Elizabeth on Flickr. Go check out her beautiful Art Smock and the cutest baby in a bib ever!
And her blog, with more of those beautiful kids is here
Congratulations Elizabeth. I hope you enjoy a shopping spree courtesy of The Fabric Stash!

Wednesday 3 September 2014

No-tie pencil scarves : Tutorial over at Oliver + S blog

I was sitting in a coffee shop a week or two ago and I saw a picture of some gorgeous knitted pencil scarves by an Etsy seller Sara Carr.

The scarf in the magazine was navy and red, with a touch of gold. Exactly P's school uniform colours and I went home and immediately set to work to make him one from the leftover fleece from his sweaters.

I don't knit, so mine is a sewn version using the No-Tie Scarf from, you guessed it, Little Things to Sew.

With the North Americans heading into autumn, and back to school, the lovely folk at Oliver + S were keen to have me write up a tutorial for their blog.

So I'm back at my blogging home away from home. Click on the button below to see how I did it

In making another for the tutorial I've also made a birthday present for a little friend of A's who is having her 4th birthday soon. Sorted. Now I just need to resist the temptation to make an Elsa costume to go with the birthday party theme. I think I'm strong enough! ;)